Inspiring Women, Episode 22: Silencing Your Self Doubt
Silencing your self doubt is something many women struggle with. As host Betty Collins explains, words are important in this struggle, both those of your inner voice and the words you use with others. This edition of “Inspiring Women” is presented by Brady Ware & Company.
Betty’s Show Notes
Finding and owning your voice.
Strengthening your inner confidence.
It’s your identity expressing itself. It’s your personality, and it’s your individual message to the world.
I believe that there is power in that feminine voice, and it’s missing in too many conversations. From the business environment – your office, the marketplace, the boardroom, to politics, and in our homes. If we are there, it’s so crucial that the voice is heard.
In this episode, I hope to help you to move forward in owning your voice, and claiming that power.
Of course, if it’s only for the greater good.
You first have to recognize you probably have something valuable to say. You have to be strategic, though, about what you say and when you say it. Don’t speak for the sake of speaking. Be sure that you speak thoughtfully, in an engaging manner, when you want to be heard.
Words really matter.
People’s perception and how they’ve heard you is your of choice of words. Speaking isn’t just saying what you want. Speaking isn’t just having your voice. Words matter to make things happen.
You must be willing to speak up when something goes against what has a deep value for you. Silence in those moments really talks about your character. And be prepared for possible backlash when you do. Criticism comes with being a leader, regardless of your gender. The labels, and the name-calling have very little to do with you, personally. It’s really about how uncomfortable you’re making some people. Don’t take it personally, and just move on.
When you’re finding your voice, it’s one step at a time. Slow and steady.
Betty Collins, CPA, Brady Ware & Company and Host of the “Inspiring Women” Podcast
Betty Collins is the Office Lead for Brady Ware’s Columbus office and a Shareholder in the firm. Betty joined Brady Ware & Company in 2012 through a merger with Nipps, Brown, Collins & Associates. She started her career in public accounting in 1988. Betty is co-leader of the Long Term Care service team, which helps providers of services to Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and nursing centers establish effective operational models that also maximize available funding. She consults with other small businesses, helping them prosper with advice on general operations management, cash flow optimization, and tax minimization strategies.
In addition, Betty serves on the Board of Directors for Brady Ware and Company. She leads Brady Ware’s Women’s Initiative, a program designed to empower female employees, allowing them to tap into unique resources and unleash their full potential. Betty helps her colleagues create a work/life balance while inspiring them to set and reach personal and professional goals. The Women’s Initiative promotes women-to-women business relationships for clients and holds an annual conference that supports women business owners, women leaders, and other women who want to succeed. Betty actively participates in women-oriented conferences through speaking engagements and board activity.
Betty is a member of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and she is the President-elect for the Columbus Chapter. Brady Ware also partners with the Women’s Small Business Accelerator (WSBA), an organization designed to help female business owners develop and implement a strong business strategy through education and mentorship, and Betty participates in their mentor match program. She is passionate about WSBA because she believes in their acceleration program and matching women with the right advisors to help them achieve their business ownership goals. Betty supports the WSBA and NAWBO because these organizations deliver resources that help other women-owned and managed businesses thrive.
Betty is a graduate of Mount Vernon Nazarene College, a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and a member of the Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants. Betty is also the Board Chairwoman for the Gahanna Area Chamber of Commerce, and she serves on the Board of the Community Improvement Corporation of Gahanna as Treasurer.
“Inspiring Women” Podcast Series
“Inspiring Women” is THE podcast that advances women toward economic, social and political achievement. The show is hosted by Betty Collins, CPA, and presented by Brady Ware and Company. Brady Ware is committed to empowering women to go their distance in the workplace and at home. Other episodes of “Inspiring Women” can be found here.
Betty Collins: [00:00:00] Today, we’re going to get really, really deep, and I’m going to start with this quote that you’ll have to think about several times. I wrote it from my perspective, but we’ll start with the quote, a little quote, and we’ll see what you think. “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt,” by William Shakespeare.
Betty Collins: [00:00:25] I’m feeling so smart today because I have this big quote from William Shakespeare. But if Betty Collins was going to write this, it would be, “Doubts being traitors – ponder on that for a while – while losing out on what we could be or could have been, too afraid to even attempt.” That’s my breakdown of it. I do want to talk about it, though. I don’t want to be Debbie Downer today on silencing that self-doubt. That’s why we’re going to talk about your only competition is you, so we end on something very positive of how you can deal with self-doubt, because it is self-infliction, by the way.
Betty Collins: [00:01:01] A lot of it, you have to deal with the inner voices that feed it. You should be your only competitor, and sometimes, you have to know what to do with those voices, so we’re going to talk about that. Self-doubt is fed by the inner voice and, of course, self-inflicted, as I’ve said. That means you, then, are the driver. You’re the one that’s making it go. It can be really destructive if you listen. It can have no power over you, though, if you listen when it’s correct and shut it down when it’s wrong. It’s all an intentional choice and can only be made by you.
Betty Collins: [00:01:36] If there’s one struggle that I have had in life, it is probably self-doubt – the continual questioning that ends up paralyzing me, which results in me doing nothing or not going forward. This podcast is personal today, which is probably why it took me a while to write it and it was harder to write. Maybe you’re like most people … There’s very few people that, by the way, don’t have this, but they fear rejection, or they just can’t ask them. It may come down to you just not feeling like you’re enough. Possibly you, yourself, or as someone you could have been, or maybe you don’t deserve the success in most areas of your life … Do you feel like you haven’t lived up to your potential yet? Of course, I’m 56. I certainly hope I’ve had some- lived up to some of my potential. You get quite often discouraged by what you’ve accomplished in your life. Fun stuff, but I feel like it’s something we all need to face..
Betty Collins: [00:02:33] What do we do? The first step is you’ve got to tackle the inner voice that is feeding and fueling your self-doubt. You’re the key to controlling that. Here are a few things that I came up with that have worked for me, for sure, in this area. You have to stay strong and be resilient even in the tough days, in your rough times. You know what? Life is just not always easy, and it’s not always simple. Sorry. It is true that life is like a box of chocolates. You just never know what you’re going to get.
Betty Collins: [00:03:03] So, you’ve got to stay strong and be resilient. As my daughter, Erika, would say, “Cry about it, mom.” We laugh, but she’s right. You’ve got to handle criticism and the negative people who lash out at you in a more understanding and level-headed way. We’re all fortunate enough to have that one person, right? You know who they are, right? Maybe you are that person. I don’t know. But when someone’s really negative and critical, they can create a lot of self-doubt, and, man, your inner voices will hash that over, and over again, like all that they’re saying is true and all of it’s right. It’s exhausting, especially when that happens around 3:00 in the morning.
Betty Collins: [00:03:48] Instead of just believing everything that they say … Or you can think they’re crazy and ignore them. You’ve got to handle that criticism by a quick assessment, like immediate, which means you have to realize it’s there, but you have to get input from others sometimes. Then, you either thank them for helping you see the light and you make the necessary changes to be better because sometimes criticism’s necessary in your life; or you just ignore them, and smile, and move on.
Betty Collins: [00:04:18] Detox is sometimes necessary, but not always realistic in your life. Some of those people are around and maybe removing them just isn’t an option. Generally, negative, critical people, they also have self-esteem problems of their own, so they lash out at you to feel better. If they are in your life, remove them, and if it’s not an option, be ready. Take the wind out of their sail and be ready for the next time because it will happen again.
Betty Collins: [00:04:45] Here’s an example of this. I had a previous partner years ago who really always loved being critical and giving his opinion when not asked. It was all the time. There was never anything good, and everyone cringed around him. I realized he was constantly defeating me, and then I would just constantly doubt that I could do what I do. So, one day, I just calmly said to him, “You’re done talking to me that way. You know what your biggest angst is? It’s that I’m not a shareholder, but I’m treated like one. You crave to be respected as a shareholder, and you’re not, and you are one. So, don’t talk to me that way. I’m respected, and you will be doing the same thing with me.”
Betty Collins: [00:05:36] I took the wind right out of his sail, before he went into his long barrage of criticism. After that point, he had a different way of talking to me. I did think it through a little bit before I said it, but he got my message pretty quickly. Take the wind out of their sail or get them out of your life. There are going to be people who are critical, and sometimes, you know what? You need criticized. Sometimes, you do need to be told. But don’t let it get to you. Don’t hash it over at 3:00 in the morning, every time.
Betty Collins: [00:06:09] You have to really stop dragging yourself down by always comparing yourself to other people and their lives. Oh, yes, the comparison game. Fun times. But generally, you’re going to be the loser when it comes- when all you’re doing is comparing yourself. I guarantee, if you were a fly on the wall in someone’s house that you’re comparing yourself to, probably would see that they don’t have a little perfect Facebook life. Your journey is yours. Your goals are yours. Your pursuit of happiness is yours and on your terms. It’s not just coming up with someone else’s life that you want to just put onto your life, just because they have whatever it is that you think is great, or just that they are … It must be nice, because … That’ll get you nowhere except a lot of conversations and inner voices talking about what you don’t have and just, again, creating self-doubt.
Betty Collins: [00:07:09] Give energy to no one but you. The best thing you could do when you’re comparing yourself is stop and maybe celebrate the successes of those around you. We have lost that ability today. Success kind of is this bad thing sometimes, or it’s like, well, it’s not fair. How are we going to balance that? I would tell you, envy is the first step to comparison, which always results, then, in that self-doubt.
Betty Collins: [00:07:38] You’ve got to become more assertive by simply saying no. We don’t do that well, do we, ladies? Say no to things that are going to add to your self-doubt, or take away confidence, or take from you moving forward. Let go. Say no. Have no regrets. Move on with it. I’ve had to do that with different things in my life. There’s sometimes just a huge relief when you do that, and it’s okay.
Betty Collins: [00:08:02] Here’s the fun one, and I’ll talk about this – replacing perfectionism with healthier and happier habits. They will probably help you get through things a lot better if you’re not a perfectionist. It will remove that anxiety and stress. Perfectionism, to me, I think of, “I got the A-plus!” Did you need the A-plus? Was it worth it? Did anybody care? Probably not. Maybe … Being perfect just makes you tired, and at that point, self-doubt kicks in, and believe me, those inner voices are having a blast. They’re just having a blast bringing you down about it..
Betty Collins: [00:08:41] Something that I can relate to, back when I took the CPA exam, and I see it today, is you have to get a certain score in the CPA exam to pass. The first time I took it, I passed tax. I never prepared a tax return in my life. I thought, “Well, if I can do that and pass that, I can get through this.” But I had to pass more than one part, so it didn’t count. I took it over again, took all four parts. Guess what? I got 72, 73, 74 … You had to have 75. [inaudible] a lot of self-doubt – am I ever going to get through this? Am I ever going to do this?
Betty Collins: [00:09:19] Somebody had really wise words to me and said, “You know this stuff, you just need to know how to take a test.” And I just went, “Oh …” I took an actual class on how to take the CPA test. I went in, passed three parts at one time, and then did last part just on my own. No one has ever asked me my score. No one’s ever said, “What did you score on your four parts of your test?” Does it matter that I had the A-plus, and had a 95 or a 99? It really didn’t. The important thing was that I learned; I persevered; I took the test..
Betty Collins: [00:09:59] Sometimes, that perfectionist gets in us, and the self-doubt. I could have just given up on the exam because it’s a brutal thing to go through. Here’s another thing – when you don’t achieve everything – all right, you might even fail – just handle it in a way that allows you to keep feeling good about the setback. Most importantly, you’ve got to breeze through these times. Failure and setbacks are just part of the journey. It’s where you learn. It assists you maybe sometimes with being humble. It helps you help others. It’s the best “schooling,” or education for the next time because it will be there. Everyone has setbacks, so tell your inner voice that because it’s true, and you move on.
Betty Collins: [00:10:50] Here’s one. You’re going to love it. Talk back to your own inner critic. Conversations … That’s right, I’m telling you to have a two-way conversation now in your head. Talking back is okay, because sometimes you got to shut it down. You’ll be amazed if you journal your thoughts. Some people go, “I’m not journaling. Get over it. I’m not doing it.” Go back and read them, and you’ll be amazed at where your mindsets were.
Betty Collins: [00:11:13] When I went through a divorce. I journaled a lot at that time because there was a lot of doubt, and there was a lot of negativity, and critical, and self-esteem issues, obviously, related to divorce. I journaled, especially because it was like when I knew I was in that frame of mind. I just did that. Eventually, I got through divorce and came out on the better end and did really, really well. One day, I was cleaning and found all those journals. I started reading some of that stuff, and I went, “Oh, my gosh!” Then, I burned them all because I thought, “Somebody finds these journals, it’s gonna be a really bad day!”
Betty Collins: [00:11:13] It was something that helped me stop the inner critic because I would write it down, I would get it out, and then I wouldn’t hash it over and hash it over. So, I would challenge you, even … You don’t want to journal, and you’re not going through divorce … It’s just day to day. If you were to start, today … Start counting the times you’re being critical, or doubting yourself, or saying something negative, you’ll be amazed. Track it every time, and you’ll go, “Okay, I got to change this habit.” It does create self-doubt when you’re that way.
Betty Collins: [00:12:16] The last thing I’m going to cover, and I could go on and on about things that cause self-doubt … I just felt like these were the ones that applied mostly to my life. You’ve got to lay off and overcome being the most critical – the thing that drives your self-esteem down. It’s about those habits … How we look. Well, maybe being a size two isn’t all that, because you don’t get to eat. I don’t know. We overthink. We overthink things way too much sometimes, and it just takes the joy out of the every day. You’ve got to stop beating yourself up and pushing yourself to places where you may not come back when you get in those frame of minds.
Betty Collins: [00:12:56] You just may need a good mentor to get you your perspective. I’ve done that off and on in my career because I get mired down. I just get mired down. I talk every day to a person- not every day, but most days, we talk on the way home from work. We always kind of just vent our things that happened that day, or laugh through it, or I get perspective. It’s good for me. That’s called informal mentoring, and you kind of have that.
Betty Collins: [00:13:21] But I would challenge you to really look at formal mentoring. A great organization for that is the WSBA in Westerville. They do a fantastic job of connecting the right person with you. You also just may need to get professional help some time. It’s okay. I’ve had a shrink off and on my entire life because there are just times I can’t get through that self-critical- that self-esteem pushing me, of I should be this, and I should be that. If you had a bad physical issue – an infection – you’d go to a doctor. So, if you’re mentally not having clarity and perspective, I’d tell you, a good counselor is a great way to go. Been there and done that.
Betty Collins: [00:13:57] You start by tackling the inner voice. I’ve tried to go through some things that kind of feed that inner voice; that constantly keeps those conversations … You’ve got to shut it down as soon as it creates self-doubt. Sometimes, you’ve got to listen to it because it’s maybe right. Many times, I’ve had this- I’ve had the A-ha moment. I’ve had this A-ha moment many times, I should say – the only competition is you, Betty Collins. If I’m going to really not be held back by self-doubt, and insignificance, or whatever it is, I’ve got to trust myself to handle it. I’m pretty capable, and if I look back on the things I have handled, and the things I have driven, and the things that I have gotten through, I can trust myself.
Betty Collins: [00:14:46] You need to look at it the same way. You’ve had times where you’ve just done it. You know what you’re doing. You’ve got to discover your factual strengths and your weaknesses. We are not good at everything. Period. You don’t know everything. Period. Just because you have a weakness doesn’t mean you cannot be competitive and do the things that you want to do in your life and in your career. Instead, I would tell you to focus on what you should do..
Betty Collins: [00:15:15] My world is an accounting world. It’s a world full of tremendous amounts of really good technicians because that’s what we do. We have to have those people. If you had me go and do auditing all day long and read the GAAP – General Accepted Accounting Principles – and you had me do proposals to change SARs, I would be horrible at it. You would fire me. If you wanted me to do things like be a business advisor, and coach you, and tell you what your tax return means, and give you strategy, I’m your person. Those are my strengths. Even though I’m surrounded by people that struggle with those things, I’m really surrounded by people who can really do technical things. I can’t get wrapped up in that. Discover what your strength is and seize on it. Everyone has weaknesses, but don’t try to improve something that you’re probably never going to improve.
Betty Collins: [00:16:21] Cultivate more compassion and understanding for yourself, the people around you. I’ll never forget this experience. I went to a client years ago. When I got to this client, he was the business director. I went in his office, and he was definitely this bean counter. You had to see his office. He had green ledger paper stacked, and print-outs, and calculators … You had to just see it. He was a typical accountant. He probably had a pocket protector on, full with pens.
Betty Collins: [00:16:50] What was interesting … I always thought he was hard to approach. At this job, everybody had a card, and it stood out right in front of their desk. It was probably an 8 x 10, 8 x 11, whatever the standard size is; it was in a frame. It said, “This is how you need to approach me,” and it gave you three things. It was interesting because, all the sudden, I realized he doesn’t want to do accounting right away. He wants me to ask how his dog is. He wants me to … He wants to hear about my family. He wanted a little personal before we got right into accounting.
Betty Collins: [00:17:30] It was interesting because on the phone, when I dealt with him, we were all accounting. I get to his office, and his office is full of pictures of his family and vacations. Then, I’m seeing how he wants to be approached. I learned with that to have a little bit more compassion and understanding of who I was dealing with. Then, I didn’t have somebody who I just thought was a critical accountant, wanting to change something that was $10. It would drive me crazy. Those are things you need to look at.
Betty Collins: [00:17:57] Find your most important dream and set your goals. Stay with effective strategies; those are things we hear. There’s so much self-help out there. But dreams and goals come in different sizes. So, when you find them, keeping it simple and being realistic is the best way to get to the untapped stuff in your life and potential that you have..
Betty Collins: [00:18:18] For me, I’ve been in accounting since 1988, and I didn’t really start getting into some of those untapped potential things, strengths that I do well until I came to Brady Ware. This podcast is a result of that. Running the women’s initiative is a result of that. Being out there … My complete dreams and goals have shifted and totally changed, and I enjoy it so much more. The self-doubt just isn’t there because I’m more engaged in those simple things that I’m seeing because I had all this potential I didn’t know was there.
Betty Collins: [00:18:53] Stay on course. When you get there, and you finally do it – you’re at the destination – don’t sabotage it. Here’s a good example. I lost 19 pounds and 13 inches this year. As of today, right this moment, I’m still down sixteen pounds, so I’m within three, right? I did it all in about for months. When you’re in your 50s, you always say, “I can’t lose weight because … Women. We get all the bad stuff, metabolisms and everything.” But I did do it during this time, and I’ve kept it off, and I’ve learned those habits. What I generally talk about when someone asks me about weight, or I talk about weight, I always talk, though, “I’m just not done. I’ve still got 10 pounds to go. I still don’t like the way I look. If I could just be …” Stop. Instead, stay on course, work towards the goal, and when you get there, celebrate it. Don’t sabotage it or talk negatively about it.
Betty Collins: [00:19:49] Another thing we don’t do a lot of, or we do way too much of it, is “I deserve having and getting more good things and great things in my life.” That’s okay. Sometimes, people talk about what they deserve, and we kind of laugh. We kind of all get tired of that entitlement today. But if you work hard, and you play hard, your success should be celebrated. You deserved it, and you earned it. It’s okay. Think on that versus, “Well, but everyone else doesn’t have this,” or, “It’s probably not fair,” or “I got lucky.” Turn your thinking towards that. Again, the only competition that I’m competing with is Betty Collins.
Betty Collins: [00:20:26] Simply stop feeling lousy or negative about yourself. Nobody likes a Debbie Downer. Figure out happiness. My mom always said, and she had this on her bulletin board in the kitchen for years, “False cheer is so much better than real crabbiness.” That’s just the better way to live, sometimes. You can’t just ignore things in your life, but sometimes, you just have to do that.
Betty Collins: [00:20:51] Get some clarity, get some perspective, and let go of how you think you should be, and embrace really who you are, deep down. Do not let self-doubt take away from you, and don’t let it take from your desires and dreams. Remember, your only competition in life, and in your journey, is you. o obtain those desires, and those dreams – just you.